GREENSBURG, PA – Back in 2010 we reported on the torture and murder of Jennifer Daugherty. She was a 30-year-old mentally disabled woman who was tortured to death by a group of people she considered friends. For 36 hours, she was held in a dingy apartment and tortured before she was stabbed to death.
While bound by Christmas decorations, Daugherty was forced her to eat feces, urine and detergent. She was repeatedly beat with a towel rack, a vacuum cleaner hose, and a crutch. Her head was shaved and her face painted with nail polish. After being forced to write a fake suicide note, she was stabbed to death. Her body was discovered stuffed in a trash can that had been wedged underneath a car parked in the parking lot of Greensburg Salem Middle School.
Eventually police would arrest six people in connection to Daugherty’s torture and murder. Amber C. Meidinger, 20; Melvin Knight, 20; Ricky V. Smyrnes, 23; and Peggy Darlene Miller, 27, were all charged with homicide, conspiracy and aggravated assault. Robert Loren Masters, 39, and Angela Marinucci, 17, were charged with criminal conspiracy.
Knight was interviewed by police within hours of Daugherty’s body being found. The interview was recorded and provided police, as well as the courtroom, with details of what happened to Daugherty in the hours before she was murdered.
According to Knight, Daugherty sealed her fate when she hit on Ricky Smyrnes in the apartment where some of the suspects lived. This angered his girlfriend, Angela Marinucci, so she and Amber Meidinger beat Daugherty’s head against a bathroom wall. The others then joined in on the beating, with Smyrnes beating Daugherty with a crutch, and Meidinger kicking and stomping on her stomach.
“Amber had stomped on her stomach and said, ‘Now you know how you feel when a pregnant woman gets punched in the stomach,’ and then I stomped on her stomach,” Knight said on the tape.
The court would also hear Knight detailing how they tied Daugherty up and forced her to ingest a drink that contained Meidinger’s feces, Marinucci’s urine, soap and oil. After complaining about stomach pains, Daugherty was given sleeping pills and antibiotics. During the subsequent beatings and humiliation, Daugherty begged her captors to let her go home. Knight said the group decided to kill her instead so she wouldn’t talk about what they had done to her.
“Ricky went and got a knife and told me to stab her,” Knight said on the tape. “I hesitated a little bit, and then I stabbed her in the chest three times. Then Ricky said, ‘Dang, the (expletive) is still alive,’ so I stabbed her again.”
Knight reportedly laughed out loud in court when this portion of the tape was played back in 2010. I bet he wasn’t laughing in November 2010, when the prosecution announced it was seeking the death penalty for Smyrnes, Knight and Meidinger.
In May 2011, Marinucci was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole. Since she was 17 at the time of Daugherty’s murder, she was ineligible for the death penalty. In April of this year, Knight pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping. On Thursday, a jury voted to put Knight to death.
Daugherty’s family say that she had the mental capacity of a 12 – to 14-year-old and trusted everyone she met. This was apparent by one of Daugherty’s last Myspace status that stated, “this is my time to make a new start for myself, and making some new friends and not being afraid of anything, so this is going to be a good thing for me.”
So that’s two sacks of shit down and four sacks of shit to go. I thought this cartoon someone posted on my Facebook summed it up quite nicely.
Tags: Crime, Jennifer Daugherty, Melvin Knight, Murder, Pennsylvania, Torture